Doğubayazıt: İshak Palace and Beyon

Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
Trip End Sep 11, 2009

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Flag of Turkey  , Ağrı Province,
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Ishak Pasha Palace--one of many iconic images of Turkey--was another site I have missed visiting on two previous passes through northeastern Turkey. So, that was added to my objectives as my days left in Turkey were running low.

The last legs in getting to the near-by town of Doğubayazıt started to look a little problematical as I moved on from Van to the north. Though I covered that somewhat in the previous blog, I'll reiterate here.

On an excursion south of Van I had met three young Turkish fellows, two of them teachers (the third being the young brother of one). They invited me to spend the night with them in the small town east of Van in which one of them taught. Except for the drive back to Van in the morning, through some mild scenery, it was a friendly excursion, but not much more.

Then their plan was to drive north to the town of Ercis to visit the family of the one teacher and his brother. (The other teacher was visiting him). Well, they were expecting me to also go with them to the Ercis family, then they would drop me off on my cut-off to the north on their way back to Van the next day. Under any other circumstance, ok. But now my time in Turkey was running out and I didn't want to take yet another side trip off my intended itinerary.

So, when we got to the turn-off north to Muradiye and Doğubayazıt--and past--even though I had a few minutes before expressed my wishes, I had to insist on being let out.

Rather, after a discussion the car was turned around, and we all four drove to Muradiye. And past. This, it seemed was an excuse to show me the falls at Muradiye--and for them to pose for pictures before them.

Then back to Muradiye where the mini-bus going north was located, and was let out to await its departure.

Well, it seems that this mini-bus was only going as far as Çaldıran, a little to the north, and I would have to take another from there on to Doğubayazıt. When I stepped out of the mini-bus at no discernible station in Çaldıran I was immediately hit upon by taxi touts. I always find this pestering unnerving and onerous. I walk away--not always knowing where I would walk to.

In this case, however, the place was so small that I could tell I was at the north end of town. So I decided to just keep walking on out of town and hitchhike (auto stop) for a ride, or until a mini-bus came, whichever came first.

So, for about an hour your "having a wonderful time" guy sucked diesel fumes and dust beside the road as mostly local traffic and trucks sped by. And, the day drew on.

Finally, a gizzled old, one legged local came and stood beside me. Hmmm. What are my chances of auto stop now?

But, he was a charm. A mini-bus for Doğubayazıt shortly stopped for the both of us. As the foreign guest, I suppose, I was given a seat in the forward part of the passenger part, next to a handsome young nordic-looking fellow. Who showed absolutely no interest in my presence. So, so be it. I'm not going to beg your acquaintance. . . .

In Doğubayazıt again as I stepped out of the mini-bus I was hit upon by tourist agency and hotel touts. So was the other fellow. And he went off somewhere. Well, this time I didn't want to waste energy walking off in the wrong direction of a town in which I was going to spend the night--and not in a hotel or pension of a tout. And since there was still enough daylight I opted for a different strategy: just stand by there until the touts got tired of me and drifted off. Then, I could, in my privacy, consult my Loney Planet guidebook, look at the street map, orient myself, and head off in the direction of a hotel of my choice.

After about 20 minutes I was able to grab a sneak look a the map and saw I wanted to orient myself from the post office. So I asked where that was. Only about a half block away. There I again sat as a tout hovered near by. So, I took out another book and started to read it. (One of my waiting strategies is that when I want to precipitate a desired action I begin to read a book. Before I can really get going, what I wanted to happen happens! Try it.)

Sure enough, the tout saw this and figured I was a looser, and he headed back to his hotspot. I oriented on the map, and walked to my hotel of choice a couple of blocks away.

Straight out the window of my room I saw Isak Paşa Palace, the object of my next day's venture.

And, frankly, of that, there is not much to say. I have some pictures. But again, visually the place is much more fully, lovingly caressed in the on-line pictures of the Dutchman, Dick Ossman:

Mine, however, are more recent, and show some of the "preservation" construction currently underway in the palace. Also, something Ossman doesn't have that I do, video of folk dancing outside the palace.

I liked the palace. I'm not sure that it has a special place in history. But it was fun to see how the wealthy of the time lived--at least as far as an empty architectural structure can reveal. Again, I don't pretend to represent the history. There's Wikipedia for a quick look. Nice picture, too. It was just a place to visit and hike around.

Also, sadly, I didn't get much of a view of mostly cloud shrouded Mt. Ararat (Agri Dağ) near by. If you look at the Wikipedia picture ( Mt. Ararat is just to the right, obscured from view from the palace by a high ridge of rocks.

After recording some of the recording of the dancing (someone was producing a video of a folk dance representing a love triangle, it looked like) I went hiking way above the palace, a steep and tiring walk/climb. On the way down I got my second look at a Turkish tilki (fox). All too brief, again, as they move out of sight pretty darn fast.

The next day it was on to Kars and Ani.

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